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The Best Places to Photograph Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC
Check out where to see the cherry blossoms in DC and find the top spots for that picture-perfect Instagram, both on and off the National Mall.
You know spring has sprung in Washington, DC when the cherry blossoms appear and the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins. But capturing the perfect shot of a cherry blossom tree can be a daunting task. Expert photographers will tell you, the secret to taking a beautiful photo of these delicate marvels is a combination of the perfect scene and some good old-fashioned timing. For the blossoms, that time is during peak bloom, which typically occurs around early April but has occurred as early as mid-March and as late as mid-April.
The best viewing of the cherry blossom trees typically lasts four to seven days after peak bloom begins, but the blossoms can last for up to two weeks under ideal conditions. So grab your lens (camera or phone) and capture these world-famous trees from these ideal vantage points and see the likes on your feed blossom.
To get shots of the blossoms from every angle, take the time to do a full loop around the Tidal Basin. Depending on the time of day, pause at different spots to capture the light just right. Sunsets are particularly beautiful, but sunrise comes with the advantage of not being as crowded.
The marble steps at the Jefferson Memorial are the perfect place to perch and snap a panoramic view of the blossoms along the Tidal Basin. Capture the perfect landscape shot with the Tidal Basin in the foreground and the Washington Monument off in the distance.
Located on a four-acre site along the Tidal Basin, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a can’t-miss stop if you’re making a loop on the banks of the Tidal Basin. The color from the pink and white blossoms will pop against the prominent 30-foot statue of the Civil Rights icon.
Dating back nearly 400 years, the stone lantern is a serious #tbt. One of a pair – its twin resides at a Tokyo temple; the Japanese lantern was carved to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. Each year, to mark the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the lantern is lit by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing the Embassy of Japan.
See the blossoms from the water when you hop in a two- or four-person paddle boat. Get yourself to the middle of the Tidal Basin for a wide shot of the trees or paddle yourself to the Jefferson Memorial for a shot of people dotting those marble stairs.
No matter the season, the National Arboretum in Northeast DC shines as a photogenic destination. During cherry blossom season, the hidden gem is another place to behold the celebrated pink and white flowers. An added bonus: The Arboretum’s blossoms usually peak at a different time than the Tidal Basin ones, offering an alternative opportunity to catch the blossoms.
Cherry blossoms line the pathways of the 10 acres of gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, an historic estate in Georgetown. You can’t go wrong with any of the beautiful views of the blossoms, but Cherry Hill at peak bloom is utterly spectacular. The gardens are open every day of the week except Mondays.
Take the free Wharf Jitney over to Hains Point or grab some wheels from Bike and Roll and get ready for ample photo-ops of the blossoms. The loop around Hains Point spans 4.4 miles and is full of views of the blossoms with waterfront backdrops of the Potomac River, Anacostia River and Washington Channel. The loop is usually less crowded than the Tidal Basin, and it includes as many as 10 unique cherry blossom species.
The largest Roman Catholic Church in North America, and the 10th largest in the world, is located in DC’s Brookland neighborhood. The Basilica’s grounds hold even more appeal: you can see more than 150 gorgeous cherry blossom trees on-site. Snap photos of the trees while you admire the church’s incredible architecture. Entry to the grounds and the Basilica is free of charge.
As a reminder, please do your part in helping to protect the trees by never picking the cherry blossoms (it’s against the law).
So, now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to go capture the perfect photo. And be sure to check out our guide to spring before you visit the nation's capital.